An uncertain path… Elizabethton City schools face uncertainty in wake of Coronavirus pandemic

Published 1:51 am Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Every morning as people awake a different world seems to unfold as overnight more changes are taking place in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and as changes are announced the ripple effects continue to roll downstream throughout the country and especially locally.
One month ago, Elizabethton students and teachers were talking about plans for spring break which was scheduled for March 23 – March 27  – maybe plans on a trip to the beach, Disney World, or some other great fun getaway.
Now, seven days removed from being dismissed from school due to Coronavirus, those same students and teachers are wondering if they will even get to return to school to complete the Spring 2020 semester as currently the school system is scheduled to be closed through April 3rd.
Dr. Corey Gardenhour, Director of Elizabethton City Schools, was asked if plans are being made for the school to be possibly out beyond the current scheduled date of return.

“Yes, plans for extending the current schedule are being discussed daily,” said Gardenhour. “However, we are still relying on information from the State Department of Education. We understand the coronavirus has not hit the peak yet for this area.”

When students were dismissed, they were provided with information on how to access online courses and if they didn’t have access to the internet or a computer, they were provided with packets.

Those studies will begin after the spring break on March 30th according to Dr. Gardenhour.

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Many schools across the United States have already announced plans to close the school doors for the rest of the current school year including colleges who have announced that commencements will be done online.

With that being a stark possibility even for the Elizabethton School system, many students, including seniors, wonder how that may impact such activities as their prom and even graduation.

“At this time, we are looking at Spring Activities, but waiting on clear guidance from the State Department of Education before any cancellations of events,” said Gardenhour when asked about that possibility. “Some events may or may not happen, but we hope to be able to reschedule at a later date if possible.”

With such an unprecedented event unfolding with Coronavirus, one can only imagine the difficulties that are being experienced at all levels but more so for schools that are having to do things out of the box with a short time to prepare.

According to Dr. Gardenhour, the most challenging aspect is in the way of relaying information for teachers and students to adjust to a new way of learning.

Another concern going into the extended time from school was the fact that many students and their parents rely on the school for meals which might be the only nutrition some of the students might have during the day.

Thankfully, the community has reached out to offer assistance to these students along with the school’s feeding program.

“Many local people have reached out to us and offered to help with the feeding program,” stated Dr. Gardenhour. “At this time the elementary schools having the feeding program daily has helped meet the needs of kids.
“Also many local organizations are willing to help during ECS scheduled Spring Break. An updated list of community partners providing meals is on the ECS website and social media.”

Obviously, what is most important more than anything to Dr. Gardenhour and the rest of the Elizabethton City School system is that their students are safe and following the correct protocol while facing uncharted waters.

“The health and safety of our students are our top priority,” Dr. Gardenhour emphasized. “During this time out of school, please practice social distancing to help prevent the virus spread and help others when you are able.

“We have a very strong community, which we can depend on each other during this difficult time. I appreciate the level of kindness and support all of our community agencies are showing towards students and families.

“We miss seeing the children daily. We miss the hope and support they remind us of every day. We are diligently working daily to help the vision, mission, and dreams for what they can become.”